Indian Railways Ordered To Pay Rs 17.5 Lakh To Passenger For Stolen Luggage: Is Railways Responsible?
The South Central Railway has been directed to pay a compensation worth Rs 17.5 lakh to a passenger traveling from Hyderabad to Bengaluru in August 2017.
The passenger reported a robbery of almost Rs 18 lakh while traveling to Bengaluru in the Kacheguda–Yesvantpur Express on August 12, 2017.
The complainant filed a complaint against the SCR at the consumer commission, for negligence of the Railways’ authorities resulting in the theft.
Due to insufficient submissions of statements from concerned individuals and questioning of the alleged party, the consumer commission has slapped the South Central Railway to pay a compensation amount of nearly Rs 17.5 lakh to the complainant.
SCR Passenger Reports Robbery Worth Rs 18 Lakh
Sheetal Kulkarni, a resident of Hyderabad, travelling to Bengaluru on August 12, 2017 in the Kacheguda–Yesvantpur Express, was carrying gold and silver jewellery worth Rs 15 lakh and cash of nearly Rs 3 lakh.
She was on her way to attend a relative’s engagement ceremony, as stated by her.
On reaching home, her family and her realised that the suitcase containing her belongings was carefully cut from the bottom, while the jewellery and cash was missing.
They immediately lodged a complaint at the Yeshwantpur Rural Railway Police Station, alleging three people to have entered the coach unauthorised when the train had halted for a while before entering Bengaluru.
They stated that those three men were likely to have led the robbery, as the family had brought several bags to the door while preparing to get down.
However, despite lodging a complaint at the Railway Police Station, the family did not receive a proper response on following-up with them.
Consumer Commission Directs SCR to Pay Compensation
On receiving no proper response from the Railway Police Station, Kulkarni’s family lodged a complaint at the consumer commission, under the Consumer Protection Act,1986.
It blamed SCR for the theft, stating that the belongings were stolen from a reserved compartment of a moving train, adding it was due to negligence of SCR authorities.
They also added that since they paid extra service charges for reservation, SCR was liable for the theft.
To this, SCR responded that the commission did not have jurisdiction to entertain the complaint, along with the fact that personal luggage falls under the responsibility of the passenger and that the authorities will provide assistance to them, in scenarios of any unusual occurrences.
The SCR also stated that the theft had occurred while the bags were in Sheetal’s personal custody and that the complaint was lodged about 6 hours after the train reached Bengaluru, making it Sheetal’s responsibility to account for her belongings.
The consumer commission observed that the railway authorities did not look properly into the suspects pointed out by the complainant.
It said that SCR should have filed details of employees deputed in the particular coach, passengers travelling in the coach on that day and found the persons standing near the door suspected by the complainant, which it had failed to do.
The commission further noted, “Neither the Records of the officials who deputed for duty on that day nor statements of the Coach Attendants, TTE and Travelers Chart were filed”.
Consequently, the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission–II, Hyderabad has directed SCR to pay a compensation of Rs 14,01,078 for the jewellery lost, Rs 50,000 compensation for the mental agony caused, Rs 5,000 towards legal expenses, along with a refund of Rs 3 lakh cash amount, with an annual rate of interest of 9%.